Of all the health problems elderly Americans face, back pain is the most common. In fact, studies have shown that within an average year over half of all seniors experience at least one back pain flare-up.
If you’re currently taking care of an aging in place parent who deals with chronic back pain, once those episodes start becoming more frequent it can eventually threaten their at-home independence. To help ensure that doesn’t happen, here are several proven ways to help your aging parent more effectively deal with back pain.
Why do Seniors Experience Back Pain?
According to WebMD, the most common causes of chronic back pain in the elderly are:
- Accident-related. These typically stem from back trauma caused by something like a car wreck or accidental fall that resulted in permanent tissue damage to muscle, tendons and bone.
- Spine-related. Herniated or slipped discs, inflammation in the sacroiliac joint, bulging discs, a pinched nerve, or sciatica.
- Medical-related. Osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, tumors, or curvature of the spine (scoliosis).
WebMD further points out that certain lifestyle choices can increase the frequency and severity of back pain episodes, including:
- Poor posture
- Smoking tobacco products
- Poor diet
- Lifting heavy objects
- Being overweight
- Not exercising enough
A senior’s emotional state-of-mind also plays a role in their ability to effectively manage back pain. Stress causes already sensitive back muscles to tense up, and anxiety and depression can also exacerbate back pain symptoms. Now it’s time to explore some ways to help your loved one keep their back healthier.
Exercise Core Muscles
Regular exercise is great for back pain relief, especially when it strengthens the body’s core muscles that align the spine, ribs and pelvis. The more support the core muscles provide, the less stress that’s placed on tender back areas. Good low-impact forms of core muscle-strengthening exercises that seniors can participate in are:
- Water aerobics
In addition, exercise helps reduce stress and anxiety, boosts immunity, improves balance and coordination, and promotes a better night’s sleep. Joining a senior-focused gym is also a great way for seniors to make new friends!
Low back pain can flare up due to leg and hip muscle tightness, while a regular stretching program helps loosen those muscles, improves flexibility, and helps prevent back pain occurrences. Stretching exercises can be done at home, outside in the sun, or during a class at the local senior center. Yoga is great for stretching, and many classes focus on what’s called “restorative postures” that don’t put a lot of stress on the bodies of older participants.
Eat a “Back-Healthy” Diet
Deep fried foods, fast foods, baked goods, and foods high in sugar can all worsen back inflammation. Reduce your loved one’s intake of those while replacing them with back-healthy foods rich in essential vitamins and minerals, such as:
- Dark green, leafy vegetables
- Fresh fruit, especially berries
- Flaxseed oil
- Nuts rich in omega-3 fatty acids like walnuts, Brazil nuts and cashews
If your parent is overweight, a healthier diet will also help them shed extra pounds which further reduces stress on sensitive back tissues.
Replace Their Mattress
If your parent’s bed has a mattress that’s more than 10 years old, it’s probably not doing their back any favors. A worn-out mattress won’t properly support their spine or promote restful sleep. While we’re asleep our bodies carry out much-needed tissue repairs, including to the back, and that’s why it’s essential to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day. Kick that old mattress to the curb and find mom or dad a new one with medium-firm support.
Other Lifestyle Modifications
There are other ways to help your parent reduce the stress they put on their back muscles, like buying them more comfortable shoes, a reach extender for getting objects off higher shelves, or a low-back pillow with good lumbar support for sitting on the couch.
In-Home Back Pain Relief for Manatee County, FL, Seniors
Trying to care for an aging parent who suffers from back pain can be hard when you have your own household to manage or live too far away. When you need some assistance, call First In Care. Our experienced caregivers provide seniors with the in-home back pain relief they need so they can continue aging in place right where they want to be. And, as a fully licensed home care agency, our caregivers are highly trained and carefully screened for your loved one’s protection.
While serving as an extended family in your loved one’s home, our aides can also perform services like light housework, personal hygiene, meals, medication reminders, transportation and companionship; all delivered in a flexibly tailored package to put your mind at ease. To schedule a FREE in-home care consultation for your senior in Manatee County, FL, please visit First In Care now at: www.firstincare.com!